Cooper, Lady Gaga make beau­ti­ful mu­sic to­gether

New Haven Register (Sunday) (New Haven, CT) - - NEWS - By Rafer Guzmn

Of all the movies about the Hol­ly­wood fame ma­chine, “A Star is Born” may be the most en­dur­ing. The story of an as­pir­ing no­body and an A-list celebrity who fall in love and grad­u­ally change places, “A Star is Born” has been made four times over 80plus years. The de­tails may change — some­times it’s about ac­tors, some­times singers — but “A Star Is Born” al­ways re­mains the same: a Cin­derella story in which the Prince does not get his happy-ever-af­ter.

Bradley Cooper plays that prince, the al­co­holic coun­try-rocker Jack­son Maine, and Lady Gaga is Ally, his undis­cov­ered Cin­derella, in the lat­est “Star.” Cooper and Gaga may be es­tab­lished names, but they have a lot rid­ing on this project: It’s his di­rec­to­rial de­but and her first lead­ing film role. What’s more, they’re fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Fredric March and Janet Gaynor in 1937, James Ma­son and Judy Gar­land in 1954, and Kris Kristof­fer­son and Bar­bra Streisand in 1976 — all more or less Hol­ly­wood icons.

The good news is that Cooper and Gaga are flat-out ter­rific. Ac­tors play­ing rock stars can be a dicey propo­si­tion, but Cooper is note-per­fect as Maine, a sexy dis­as­ter poured into a pair of cow­boy boots. Des­per­ate for a drink one night, he slinks into a night­club and sees Ally do­ing a cabaret ren­di­tion of “La Vie en Rose.” He’s smit­ten. Back­stage, he re­moves her makeup (much as Ma­son did to Gar­land in 1954) and ad­mires the face she says has kept her from pop star­dom.

Gaga’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity is cap­ti­vat­ing, es­pe­cially af­ter so many years of mu­sic-video and stage per­sonas. She’s best as pre-fame Ally: shy and self-ef­fac­ing, but with an in­ner iron core. Af­ter Jack­son drags her onto his stage for a duet — an elec­tri­fy­ing mo­ment that may be the movie’s high point — Ally be­comes a vi­ral sen­sa­tion and soon finds her­self singing power bal­lads backed by dancers. The more Ally re­sem­bles Lady Gaga, the less in­ter­est­ing she be­comes.

Like some of its pre­de­ces­sors, “A Star is Born” suf­fers from a me­an­der­ing sto­ry­line (the script is by Eric Roth) and a slightly un­clear theme: Is the movie about chas­ing dreams, sell­ing out or sober­ing up? Still, Cooper and Gaga make beau­ti­ful mu­sic to­gether (lit­er­ally — they per­formed all songs live) and they vir­tu­ally glow when­ever they share the screen.

Their “Star” makes a fine ad­di­tion to a Hol­ly­wood legacy.

Clay Enos / As­so­ci­ated Press

Bradley Cooper, left, and Lady Gaga in a scene from “A Star is Born.”

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